Private hospitals in Odisha run sans fire safety measures

The lessons from SUM Hospital fire, which claimed 25 lives nearly two years ago, are yet to be learnt as private hospitals and clinics in tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj district still lack proper fire sa

Published: 25th March 2018 04:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th March 2018 04:39 AM   |  A+A-

Photo from the SUM hospital incident. (File Photo)

By Express News Service

BARIPADA: The lessons from SUM Hospital fire, which claimed 25 lives nearly two years ago, are yet to be learnt as private hospitals and clinics in tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj district still lack proper fire safety measures. Barely one or two health care centres have installed the fire safety equipment while several others do not even possess the required fire fighting arrangements.

Interestingly, though the Director General of Police (fire service) in December 2017 had asked the fire safety officers to inspect private hospitals and nursing homes in 30 districts, raid on such establishments is yet to be conducted in Mayurbhanj. While most of these centres are operating without adequate fire safety measures,  no mock drill has been carried out so far to prepare the hospital staff to tackle fire mishap.

Assistance Fire Officer Prakash Kumar Jena said most of the nursing homes and private hospitals here lack adequate fire fighting equipment. Though a few fire extinguishers have been kept at some private clinics, hospital staff are yet to be trained to tackle such a situation. The fire services wing is taking steps to conduct inspection at the hospitals in the district. The hospital authorities are advised to keep sufficient fire safety equipment and conduct mock drills at regular intervals, he added.

Jena said the high-rise buildings also lack fire safety measures and owners of the hospitals have violated the specifications mentioned in the National Building Code of India 2005. Not a single such establishment has so far applied for fire safety certificate from the Director-General of Fire Service, he added.The civil construction of clinical establishment is significant in terms of tackling  fire mishaps. The design of the building should be done with provisions of staircases and adequate entry and exit points. The hospitals must instal water hydrants, terrace tank, smoke and heat detectors and other measures, he said.

“This exposes the Government’s lack of interest regarding safety measures. Violators are thereby encouraged to thrive and endanger the lives of people. Hundreds of patients from the district and neighbouring Jharkhand come here for treatment. Patients’ attendants cook food on the hospital premises and anything can happen. So required precautionary measures should be taken at the earliest,” said an activist.

Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Gangadhar Nayak said steps are being taken to inspect private hospitals and clinics running without adequate fire safety measures. A drive will be launched to create alertness among clinical establishments to adhere to the fire safety norms, he added.

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